Skull & Shackles

Boarding the Man's Promise

Abadius 29, 4712

In the morning, the Wormwood is drawing closer to her chosen prey, a three-masted sailing vessel a bit larger than the pirate ship herself. It will be several hours before the faster Wormwood can overtake the other ship, so the pirates take the time to ready their gear. Riaris Krine, the Wormwood's master gunner, stops overseeing the deployment of the ship's ballistae to call the new recruits to her. She informs them that they will be part of the boarding party, and their task is to secure the wheel on the other ship. She points out Zalamesh and tells him that, being as he's the least bloody useless of them, he is in charge of the boarding action. She points out the stern of the fleeing ship, telling them to note the wheel on the poop deck and the two ballista on the higher stern castle. "Those spears take too long to load, so they won't be much use during the boarding, but they'll be using them to slice our riggings soon enough." She tells them to swing over once the ships are close, drive off the sailors, and take control of the wheel. "Don't let anyone get to those boats," she says, as she points to two small jonny-boats on the port and starboard main deck. "We want crew and prisoners, not castaways." Krine waves to the Wormwood's sorceress, Peppery Longfarthing. "Things will get foggy when we get close. Just stick to the plan. Swing aboard, take the wheel; guard the boats." Krine sees that the men are armed, so she doesn't issue them any weapons from the ship's armory on the main deck. Hamish takes one of the spears mounted on the wall of the galley, as well as two of the hatchets that Faiz told him were being used as meat cleavers. He chooses to use these rather than the mace he found in the bilges as it is a bit unwieldy. He puts on his brigandine vest and his leather greaves, as well as his leather bracers. Zalamesh also armors himself up as best he can and decides to use the nicely balanced boarding axe he found rather than his own sickle. Theodric fetches the short sword from the galley, and Faiz straps on his own scimitar. He is interrupted in his preparations by orders from Captain Harrigan, who tells the cook and his mate to slaughter a hog and bleed the animal overboard. Harrigan wishes the seas to be teeming with sharks, as he wants no deserters and no escapees. Zalamesh, knowing about the magical grapple in the galley, suggests to his friend Faiz that he should borrow the grappling hook from Kroop, while he and Theodric secure their own ropes for the boarding action. Theodric blesses the weapons of his friends, enchanting Zalamesh's boarding axe and Hamish's hatchet, while Faiz summons a crackling shield of sparks to guard him from his enemies. As the ships finally draw closer together, Peppery begins fouling the air with sorcerous mists, spoiling the aim of the sailors aboard the Man's Promise, who nonetheless load and crank their crossbows with desperation, hoping to land a lucky shot among the crew on deck of the Wormwood. Shango, Theodric, and Faiz ready their grappling hooks, standing on the stern of the Wormwood waiting for the enemy ship to draw close enough to grapple. Hamish holds no hook, but a spear, and warns the others to stay clear of his path. Soon enough, the Man's Promise can make no further gains on the Wormwood, and their crew turn to the inevitable boarding action to come. As the ships close together, many quarrels hurl through the thick mist, fired in desperate hope, but none find their place in the four's flesh (though one buries itself in the mast next to Shango). They can see two men guarding the wheel, and four more at the sterncastle, reading for the boarding. Before the ships collide together in a tangle of wood and ropes, Hamish hurls his spear, taking one of the sailors in the chest with it. The man is wearing studded leather armor which absorbs some of the force, but he drops his cutlass and staggers to the ground, stunned. His mates, having dropped their crossbows, ready their own cutlasses and hangers, and the pirates of the Wormwood hurl their grapnels! All of the men's find purchase in the riggings, and as they prepare to swing across, Hamish rushes forward with a howl and leaps the gap between the two ships! Faiz swings across, but misjudges his swing, and lands close to the wheel, but also, too close to the armed sailors for his comfort. Theodric swings across and nimbly lands beside him, to reinforce him, while Shango muffs his swing and lands farther back on the stairs leading to the poop deck. Pressed by the sailors before he can even draw his sword, Hamish pounds his fist into one of their faces, staggering his foe before he can draw blood. The fight is soon thick and fast. Shango threatens the sailors of the ship, promising to sacrifice their souls, and a few seem reluctant to engage him. He uses his voodoo magics to force the men to drop their swords, making them an easier target for Hamish's hatchet. Faiz and Theodric clash blades with their foes, with both sides largely parrying the others, until Faiz lands a solid cut and disables an opponent's sword arm. Theodric turns to finish off one of the men staggered by Hamish and Zalamesh, and his opponent takes advantage of his lapse to stab him painfully. Zalamesh and Hamish are advancing up the port side toward the sterncastle, putting down their foes. Hamish hurls his hatchet into the back of one of the sailors too foolhardy to surrender, and Zalamesh savagely chops him down for failing to bow to his will. One of Theodric's opponents clouts him brutally in the face with the basket hilt of his cutlass, but the Besmaran stands his ground and follows his mate's lead, chopping at the other man's arm to disarm and disable him. When his mutilated foe refuses to surrender, and tries to crawl away towards the boats, Theodric attempts to stab him in the back, but the wounded sailor twists away from the blade before passing out from his injuries. As they fight, the men notice Captain Harrigan making for the captain's cabin of the Man's Promise with Krine and Scourge close behind. None of the three see a sailor slip from behind a mast and draw close to Harrigan with a knife. Shango calls out a warning to the captain, and Harrigan wheels about and rams his sword through the assassin's gut, spilling her innards to the decks, before tugging his sword free and going inside the cabin. As the men secure the poop deck, an explosion rocks the bow and Kipper staggers from the cabins there with soot and smoke around him. The blast parts the fog a bit and the men see three Rahadoumi sailors running for the cutter on the ship's starboard deck. Hamish rushes to engage them and Theodric clambers into the boat itself to prevent one of the sailors from freeing it. Faiz jolts one with lightning, and Shango forces the other to drop prone with his magics. After finishing off his opponent, Hamish kicks the prone man to keep him down as well. No sooner than the men have secured the boats, the captain of the Man's Promise emerges from belowdecks with two of her sailors. She wears a fine shirt of mail and carries a boarding pike, which she thrusts threateningly at the men. Hamish, a bit tired from all the fighting, takes his hatchet and smashes the haft of the pike. Faiz unleashes fire from his hands, causing the three to scatter to avoid the flames. One threatens him and the sorcerer gives him a nasty gash across the leg, while Theodric and Zalamesh deal with the other. The captain, however, draws two scimitars and stands her ground. Hamish hurls his last hatchet at her, biting through her mail and hurting her badly. She makes a run for the side of the ship, but Hamish rushes her and, with a flying tackle, takes both of them tumbling over the edge of the gangway to the cargo deck, rendering her unconscious. The men have secured the wheel and the boats, and from the sounds around them, the battle for the ship is at an end!

 

As the men's fight ends, the mists begin to recede, and they can see that the crew of the Wormwood has successfully taken over the Man's Promise. The Radahoumi sailors are rounded up and their wounds carelessly bound up, before being tied up and marched down into the decks of their own ship. The pirates of the boarding parties get their wounds tended by Sandara and Theodric, but no one seems to be grievously injured from the crew. The same cannot be said of the sailors of the Man's Promise, and several corpses are unceremoniously dumped overboard after being stripped of valuables. 

The men consider pillaging some of the bodies themselves, until they see Captain Harrigan and several of his officers, including Riaris Krine and Peppery Longfarthing, methodically inspecting the loot from the captured ship before directing the crew as to where to stow it. Krine looks over and directs the storage of most weapons in a locker on the main deck, while Longfarthing points out particular items and directs them to a narrow closet on the starboard side of the sterncastle. Most of the booty is noted down by Cut-throat before the quartermistress directs the swabs to carry it belowdecks. Bahram makes sure to loot the galley of the Man's Promise thoroughly, selecting the best spices and foodstuffs for the Wormwood's own galley. 

After the prisoners are secured and the booty is stowed, the revels begin in earnest. Kroop prepares the hog bled earlier for the crew, and ample rum is distributed. The entire crew joins in the revelry, until Captain Harrigan interrupts the fracas with a clearing of this throat. 

Barnabas Harrigan praises the pirates of the Wormwood, and announces a paying of a full share to every hand—one hundred and fifty pieces of gold!  There is much rejoicing!  Harrigan then calls out Zalamesh and his boarding party for their swift capture of the wheel, and distributes an additional hundred pieces of gold to each of the four, as well as three potions of healing moderate wounds, and a potion of invisibility.   Harrigan claps a meaty hand on Zalamesh's shoulder and rewards the tall Bekyar with a magical amulet of natural armor for alerting the captain to his peril. The boarding party slew two of the sailors, so Harrigan awards them a bounty of 50 gold for that, and then awards them an additional 100 gold coins for capturing the ship's officer before she could escape!  The men are surprised, but delighted, to be granted such largess by the bloodthirsty Captain Harrigan. 

 

The crew engages in drunken revelry, feasting, and general merry-making throughout the night, as well as the entire following day. Theodric romances Sandara, and Hamish spends little time apart from Barefoot Sams. Shango seeks out Tilly for a bit of romance, but her blood is up, and rum is flowing, and Tilly is far more interested in partying hard than in lovemaking. Bahram approaches Syl for a romantic liason, and finds her more than willing. However, even when she disrobes, she does not remove a slim filetting knife from a snug sheath on her thigh. After their coupling, Faiz questions her about it, but learns little, other than the knife is 'her favorite'. 

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